Israel and Jordan signed a declaration of intent on Thursday at the UN climate conference to conserve and protect their shared Jordan River, a sacred waterway that has nearly dried up due to climate change, pollution and other threats.
The agreement, reached at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where world leaders are discussing how to mitigate the growing impact of a changing climate, marks an important, albeit initial, step in cooperation.
Cooperation on water was a key element of the 1994 peace treaty between the two countries, but icy relations in recent decades have complicated efforts to increase water supplies to the Jordan River.
ISRAEL URGES CITIZENS TO ‘DIMINISH’ THEIR ISRAELI IDENTITY AT WORLD CUP IN QATAR FOR THEIR OWN ‘SECURITY’
The plan announced Thursday is short on details. It says Israel and Jordan have vowed to try to reduce river pollution by building sewage treatment facilities and improving sewage systems to prevent riverside cities from dumping raw sewage into the waters, according to a Israeli government statement.
The two countries also aim to promote sustainable agriculture, control runoff from agricultural fields and reduce the use of pesticides, he added, without elaborating how.
“Cleaning up pollutants and hazards, restoring water flow and strengthening natural ecosystems will help us prepare for and adapt to the climate crisis,” Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg said.
Jordan’s state-run Petra news agency said the plan is expected to increase water supplies and create job opportunities “for those who live on both sides of the Jordan River, including Palestinians.”
ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER CALLS US INVESTIGATION INTO JOURNALIST’S MURDER A ‘SERIOUS MISTAKE’
EcoPeace Middle East, a cross-border environmental group that has promoted Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian cooperation on water issues, said the deal to rehabilitate the Jordan River was “a critical climate adaptation measure that can help recover 50% of the Biodiversity lost because of decades of pollution and diversion of fresh water”.
The waterway also separates Jordan to the east from the Israeli-occupied West Bank, seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and sought by the Palestinians for their future independent state. The river is also home to traditional sites where Jesus is believed to have been baptized, generating tourism revenue for both countries.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
In recent years, the Jordan River’s once mighty waters have dwindled to a trickle as population growth and climate change take their toll.
Jordan reported Thursday that runoff from the river has plummeted to just 7% of what it was before. Because its waters flow into the Dead Sea, the saltwater lake is now disappearing: its levels are dropping by one meter per year.